Why I'm supporting Macpherson

By Stephen Kafoury of Portland, Oregon. Stephen is a lobbyist and activist, board member of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and previously served in the Oregon Legislature and on the Portland School Board. In 2006, on BlueOregon, he contributed a memorial of Ted Hallock.

As a longtime supporter and admirer of Greg Macpherson, I am baffled by the way some progressives are jumping on the campaign of his opponent.

My advocacy of Greg is based on personal knowledge, as I have watched him close-up for more years than he has been in politics. Greg is highly intelligent; has a much broader legal background than his detractors have discovered; possesses strong liberal values, has the courage and drive to take leadership positions to effectuate those values; and has demonstrated a leadership style that has gained him the respect of both Republican and Democratic legislators.

John Kroger is a very charismatic guy. He is obviously highly intelligent, and has a devoted following. He is an engaging and inspirational speaker. John is trained as a litigator, and successful ones make great speeches. However, I have yet to see a record, especially in this state, of any activity of any kind that indicates he has more than a good rap. It’s easy to make promises about all the good things you will do. I am looking for a candidate that produces evidence that his professed priorities display themselves in activism.

According to his website, except for being a Democratic Precinct Committeeman, and serving on one party committee, since coming to Oregon, John has been basically engaged in working and playing.

By contrast, not only did Greg carry the major role of passing Ballot Measure 49, but also he worked to get it passed by raising money for the campaign and taking his weekends off to knock on doors. On his website, he has a whole paragraph listing his civic activities.

Greg has also demonstrated a virtue rare in today's politicians: courage. By taking on PERS reform, Greg knew he would incur the wrath of the public employee unions, and he's paying for it now. But he also realized that if nothing were done, school districts and other governments would suffer, and future retirees would face uncertain prospects.

Progressives need also to look at the differences between Kroger's support for Kevin Mannix's Measure 11, and Macpherson's willingness to reform it. I spent some time in my office with John discussing his take on mandatory minimum sentences - an issue that has caused Oregon's prisons to swell at the cost of social services and our state university system. Kroger won the DA's endorsement because they like this law that gives new power to prosecuting attorneys. In cases that don't fit the inflexibility of Measure 11's mandates, I'd like judges to be able to exert their judgment. Changes to Measure 11 have come up in the legislature, and will again.

As an avowed liberal, I'll take Macpherson's endorsement from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which scrutinized his entire environmental record in the legislature, over Kroger's endorsement from law enforcement officials, in helping determine my vote for Attorney General.

Comments

  • Angela (unverified)
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    Extremely well stated. I couldn't agree with Stephen more. Greg MacPherson has an excellent track record of getting things done. I look forward to his service as Attorney General and potentially for other offices.

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    to be fair, the proper comparison of endorsements would be oclv vs sierra, which has endorsed John. That Kroger has the support of the DAs is much more crucial, however. The AGs enforcement powers depend on their support.

    Steven, what laws on the books does Greg think need to be more strongly enforced, and does he pledge to devote resources to doing so?

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    While I think reasonable people can differ on this race, Stephan, the headline you chose was a touch disingenuous. "After meeting with Kroger..." strongly implies that you gave an impartial hearing to both candidates before making your decision. But from the rest of the text, it's clear that you'd made up your mind to support Greg long ago, and were at best, simply giving John a courtesy interview.

    The way you minimize John's work as Chair of the DPO finance committee into "serving on one party committee" is also indicative of the spin you're putting on this. Finance committee is arguably the most important non-Executive position at the Democratic Party of Oregon (money makes the world go round), and clearly from the DPO's recent troubles in that department, John's leadership is sorely missed.

    Greg has some fine positives working for him, so I'm quite disturbed by how his campaign and supporters seem to always fall into distorting his opponents' record.

    By the way, you haven't mentioned that Greg is a native born Oregonian yet - and John isn't. I'm sure that was just an oversight.

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    It is not surprising that a longtime friend of Greg Macpherson would support him.

    Remind me who does Greg Macpherson's website? -- oh, right. Never mind. %^>

    Some avowed liberals, including myself, are supporting John Kroger because we see in his experience and proposals the future we want to see in the Attorney General's office.

    I am confident that either of them will serve the state of Oregon with distinction.

    However, I think that Kroger actually wants to be AG, while Macpherson has his eye on the Governor's office and hopes to use this statewide race to raise his profile for 2010. Just a theory on my part.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    I have great respect for Mr. Kafoury’s service to Oregon, however, he mischaracterizes the reason many of us are not supporting Macpherson in the primary. At the same time, he conflates private conversations and admiration, with public positions. Macpherson may have private plans for the state, but he has never presented a meaningful plan for what he will do as Attorney General.

    Few to none of Kroger supporters discount Macpherson’s commitment to the Democratic Party, and nobody is claiming he is a Zell Miller. The knock on Macpherson is that the campaign has acted as if it is Macpherson’s “turn” to be Attorney General. This is evident by the lack of meaningful policies presented by the campaign. When Macpherson talks about his plans for the environment or crime, he talks about things he did in the legislature. While this is fine to a degree – he should be proud of his work – it is not actually a plan, it is a resume. In private, Macpherson may in fact be brimming with ideas, but he does not share that with the voting public. Regular voters, as opposed to insiders with access, are therefore left with no evidence that Macpherson is running for any reason beyond his desire to be Attorney General.

    Measure 11 is a perfect example of this. In the past you, and other Macpherson supporters, have talked about Macpherson’s desire to change Measure 11. However, Macpherson has never said this. He has said he has misgivings about Measure 11 but he has never presented a plan to change it. Furthermore, as Chair of the Judiciary Committee he has done nothing to indicate that he would instigate changes in mandatory sentencing. If Macpherson wants to change Measure 11, he should have the courage to say what he wants to do (I for one, support changing Measure 11, even though I support Kroger). It is similar to Macpherson’s behavior regarding the death penalty. On that issue, he claims he is opposed to capital punishment, but would not change Oregon’s law and has made no moves as a legislator to change the law. To claim to support changes in his heart, but to not support changes in fact is not a meaningful distinction. Because Macpherson does not support changes in law in public (I am not an insider and do not know what he says in private), he is in fact a supporter of both Measure 11 and the death penalty.

    The Attorney General’s Office is not a gold watch for services rendered. It has enormous influence on the everyday lives or Oregonians and is to important to be used as a reward for “waiting your turn.” Oregon is facing a real crisis in such issues as the environment and drug treatment and the next Attorney General will have to be instrumental in addressing this problems. It is not enough to ask for voters to trust that Macpherson has a social policy, he must present these policies to the public, or we are left to conclude that he has no policy.

    P.S. The comment about DA’s vs. the OLCV is an unfair comparison of Apples and Cadillacs. The correct comparison would be Kroger’s endorsement from the Sierra Club and Macpherson’s endorsement from the OLCV.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    I support Kroger because of his plans for Oregon's future while I have witnessed Greg only talking about Oregon's past. The endorsement comparison was disingenuous. John received the endorsement of the Sierra Club for his plans to tackle Oregon's environmental problems, and Greg received the endorsement from OCLV for his past efforts. John has also received the endorsements of Unions, including the SEIU, and from DAs across the state.

    I also don't think Greg should be commended for his work on Pers, considering his efforts were to cut the benefits of state workers, and resulted in years of litigation and the overturning of a large portion of his attempted reforms.

    John Kroger was one of the first state-wide candidates to oppose Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals in Oregon, while Macpherson has not taken a position. Check out the story, http://www.forestgrovenewstimes.com/news/story.php?story_id=120183789039561700 In addition, Stoel Rives, Greg's firm, represents attempting to build LNG terminals along the Columbia River.Again you can check out their webpage.
    http://www.stoel.com/files/brochure/5473_NaturalGasBrochure.pdf Lastly, I have not heard Greg take a position on Measure 11. When I saw him speak and what I have read from him, he supports the wishes of Oregonians when it comes to Measure 11 and the Death Penalty. I don't fully agree with John's position on either issue, but I respect him for stating a well reasoned opinion, as opposed to dodging the issue.

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    Because I'm at work I don't have time to look up the quote, but Kroger has publicly stated that he supports reforming Measure 11 as well. In fact, as opposed to simply saying he's open to the idea of reforming the law, he even states specifically some of the parts he would like changed (the stuff related to juvenile crime). I know this came up at the Rebooting debate and I believe I've read it elsewhere as well...

    That said, Stephen has chosen to support his friend, and I for one appreciate that he at least took the time to meet with Kroger first, unlike several of Mac's other high-profile endorsers.

  • Matt (unverified)
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    Stephen,

    I guess my response has to be a bit sarcastic, since I assume your whole post was. Let's see:

    It’s easy to make promises about all the good things you will do. I am looking for a candidate that produces evidence that his professed priorities display themselves in activism.

    How'd Greg do in 2006 when PGE was stealing money from Oregonians? Oh, that's right, he voted to let PGE keep the money. Either his "liberal" values are different from mine, or he's more concerned about making Stoel Rives and Enron happy. Which do you think it is?

    By contrast, not only did Greg carry the major role of passing Ballot Measure 49, but also he worked to get it passed by raising money for the campaign and taking his weekends off to knock on doors. On his website, he has a whole paragraph listing his civic activities.

    Um, if you read that page on the website, Greg's civic activities are pretty sparse outside of his role in the legislature. He coached little league and plays the bagpipes. (But then again, Kroger's only been "working and playing.") Are his committee memberships really that impressive, either?

    Greg has also demonstrated a virtue rare in today's politicians: courage. By taking on PERS reform, Greg knew he would incur the wrath of the public employee unions, and he's paying for it now.

    Yep, when your "liberal" values are different from the values of liberals, you do generally pay for it.

    Progressives need also to look at the differences between Kroger's support for Kevin Mannix's Measure 11, and Macpherson's willingness to reform it.

    Did you read Macpherson's website? He doesn't want to eliminate Measure 11 (which I think most liberals, myself included, prefer). He wants to "reduce" the minimum sentence but only for assault crimes. Is that really the liberal change this state is looking for?

    Finally, As an avowed liberal, I'll take Macpherson's endorsement from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters ...

    Are we really supposed to take this seriously? You admit upfront that you're on the League's board, so of course you take your own endorsement more seriously! What must be disappointing to Macpherson's camp, though, is that your League is really the only organization outside Greg's friends in the legislature to endorse the guy.

    I guess I'll listen to the Sierra Club, Veterans in Action, eQualityGiving, SEIU, Carpenters Union, Oregon Small Business for Responsible Leadership, and 19 sheriffs and district attorneys.

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    How'd Greg do in 2006 when PGE was stealing money from Oregonians? Oh, that's right, he voted to let PGE keep the money.

    And by the by, Kroger indicted Enron...an Oregon company.

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    I'll let others do the back-and-forth, but I thought I'd correct this statement from Matt...

    Um, if you read that page on the website, Greg's civic activities are pretty sparse outside of his role in the legislature. He coached little league and plays the bagpipes.

    Actually, Matt, read it again:

    Greg has coached youth soccer and basketball and volunteers at a legal aid clinic, providing free legal assistance to the poor. He’s also served as Chair of the Multnomah County Planning Commission and as Trustee for Trillium Family Services, a non-profit organization operating facilities across Oregon for mentally ill youth. As board member and President of the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, he helped create the Springwater trail from central Portland to Estacada.

    Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

    [Full disclosure: My firm built Greg Macpherson's website. I speak only for myself.]

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    As board member and President of the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, he helped create the Springwater trail from central Portland to Estacada.

    Not really all that relevant to the AGs job, but very cool nonetheless. I really like that trail, and it serves a good commuter purpose as well, believe it or not. Having an unbroken link down around the south end of the city to get downtown is a great thing.

  • Travis Miller (unverified)
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    I agree with the comments of Steve Mauer, who stated that the headline was a “touch disingenuous” for the reasons stated. In addition, Stephen’s comment on a Blue Oregon Post on Measure 11 back in December, lends further support to the contention that his meeting with John Kroger was little more than a courtesy interview.

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2007/12/oregon-ag-candi.html

  • Sunnyside (unverified)
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    "However, I think that Kroger actually wants to be AG, while Macpherson has his eye on the Governor's office and hopes to use this statewide race to raise his profile for 2010. Just a theory on my part."

    This is such a frustrating thing to hear. From everything I have heard from Greg and those who know him best, you are the first person to mention him eying the Governor's office. Please don't start these kinds of rumors without any founded basis. From hearing Greg talk, I believe he wants this seat, not to mention he gave up his safe seat as a Representative to run.

    As for this problem with Kroger, it has been through the political circles that he has his eyes set on the US Senate...I feel that there is much more to back this up considering that Kroger has planned fundraisers in DC and New York. For me, this makes me question his real commitment to Oregon as a state if he's putting that much time an energy outside it....

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    Stephen's donations and endorsements indicate he is supporting Kate Brown for Secretary of State, Greg Macpherson for AG and Steve Novick for State Senate.

    As a young man, he began in politics with other Portland politicians;Vera Katz and Earl Blumenauer.

    Prtland, Portland, Portland.

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    Slip of the fingers in the last line.

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    paulie, he hardly has a choice with AG and Senate; both major Dems running in each case are PDX-based.

    Regarding Kroger's position on M11: not to distract from discussion at Blueo, but my three part interview with John for LO (google kroger interview loaded orygun) has plenty on M11 and much more.

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    For the record, headlines are written by the editors of BlueOregon.

    Reviewing this one, I think it's an accurate summary of the second-to-last paragraph. He met with Kroger, he's supporting Macpherson.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    As an avowed liberal, I'll take Macpherson's endorsement from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which scrutinized his entire environmental record in the legislature, over Kroger's endorsement from law enforcement officials, in helping determine my vote for Attorney General.

    Uh, wait, didn't you have a hand in deciding the OLCV endorsement? If so, this paragraph strikes me as particularly silly.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    Kari- It perhaps is literally accurate but the headline is very much misleading. The headline implies that an undecided Oregon voter sat down to talk with John Kroger and then after carefully weighing the facts, decided to support Greg. In reality, a long time supporter of Greg who planned on voting for Greg in the primary, sat down with John with his mind made up, and left the meeting still planning on voting for Greg. The headline shows the bias of its writer and your response to criticism also demonstrates your own bias in the election. I don't fault you for your choice in candidates but please aknowledge that you do favor and support Greg in the AG Democratic primary.

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    Kari,the headline is misleading.

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    Kari Chisholm: I think it's an accurate summary of the second-to-last paragraph. He met with Kroger, he's supporting Macpherson.

    ...and Jessie Jackson did indeed win the South Carolina caucuses 20 years ago prior to losing, just as Bill Clinton said. And John Edwards' campaign did indeed spend a lot of money for a haircut. Yup, yup. We're all innocent here. Please ignore the clearly stated subtext.

    Kari, I've staunchly defended you against multiple accusations of abusing editorial power on Blueoregon, so I think I can say, as a friend, that someone's toe was clearly over the line on this one.

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    All respect in the world for Stephen Kafoury but the last paragraph of the article is extremely silly, given the Sierra Club's endorsement of Kroger. Compare apples to apples.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    “Sunnyside,” I have to commend slipping in an attack on Kroger, but you are wrong on both accounts. Kroger has never indicated he wants to run for anything but AG. If you go into some older posts, Kari even has a comment about Kroger turning down running for the Senate. However, at one time Macpherson was eyeing other offices. I was at a talk with Macpherson in ’06, and at that time he was thinking about offices other then AG. That said, I believe him when he says he wants to be Attorney General – my concern is that that Macpherson has not presented a reason for why he wants to be Attorney General.

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    Hmmm... I guess I still don't see what's misleading about it, but there are folks I trust weighing in here - and it doesn't seem like something to get worked up over. I've just changed it to "Why I'm supporting Macpherson".

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    Who did Labor Commissioner, Dan Gardner endorse for AG?

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    I think anyone who parses Kroger and Macpherson's stances on overincarceration would find Kroger's tendency is to be a prosecutor, and Macpherson wants to more aggressively fix the problem. That they're both worried about general election out-of-context sound bites is only smart.

    For further evidence, look at who the law enforcement officials support.

    Finally, the OLCV endorsement was made by the Board, not by Stephen. It's a solid joint decision, not one made by a sole actor.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Evan, I do not mean this sarcastically, but do you have evidence that Macpherson actually supports changing Measure 11? I have read his public statement and I watched the video of the debate, and I have not heard Macpherson say anything about actually changing the law. Similarly, Macpherson has been chair of the House committee that has the power to reform mandatory minimums and he has not taken any action on the issue. If Macpherson has been saying otherwise in private, I, as a voter who supports reforms, would like to know.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    I support Macpherson. But I would still like to know his position on LNG. Does anyone know?

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Kroger is against the LNG, but Macpherson has not taken a position on the issue.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Kafoury is a member of the OLCV board and therefore was party to the endorsement process. For him to then effectively say that his vote will in part be determined by OLCV's endorsement, an endorsement that he helped shape, is patently ridiculous.

    Next, will Kafoury say in other forums that he supports Macpherson because a prominent environmentalist supported Macpherson in a guest editorial on Blue Oregon?

    Look, I support Macpherson and gave money to him. But this editorial just seems phony and stupid.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    This Kafoury editorial appears to be of the hit-and-run variety. The editorialist spouts off then vanishes and doesn't bother to respond to comments. Or even read them? Maybe he had a PR flak write this and shop it around to various progressive sites?

    Hello, hello, is this thing on? Mr. Kafoury you have comments. (Perhaps he and his brother are busy starting things up for Ralph in Portland?)

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Progressives need also to look at the differences between Kroger's support for Kevin Mannix's Measure 11, and Macpherson's willingness to reform it.

    Can someone please link me to Macpherson's Measure 11 reform legislation? Surely it must be out there, and I assume he's been pushing it hard every term in the legislature, right?

    Although Stephen Kafoury doesn't seem to realize it, the AG doesn't have the power to do anything on Measure 11 except speak out against it; a state representative actually has the power to change it (or at least refer changes to the voters). So if that's Macpherson's platform, one has to ask why he's running for AG in the first place?

  • LT (unverified)
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    According to my communication with the Kroger campaign, Kroger doesn't enthusiastically support every word of Measure 11. He supports severe terms for violent crimes but has serious concerns about juveniles being charged under Measure 11 (if I got that wrong, I'm sure someone from the campaign will correct me).

    I know and like both men and am undecided, but it seems a gross exageration to say Kroger supports M. 11 the way Mannix does.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    LT, I do not speak for the campaign, but you more or less described what Kroger has been say for some time, going back to before he started running for AG.

    I really would like to know if Macpherson has been talking about changing Measure 11 in private. He has made no public statements about changing the law, and he made no effort to do so as Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Yet, Mr. Kafoury has now twice claimed that Macpherson wants to change it

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    I'm actually not a supporter of mandatory minimums in any form, but lemme play a little devil's advocate here. There's actually a somewhat progressive argument to be made for them in certain circumstances. For years, white criminals received shorter sentences than minorities for a variety of crimes. Under mandatory minimums, first degree rape is eight years, period (that's my recollection anyway). Let's face it, eight years for first degree rape is not exactly capital punishment in the excessive sentencing department.

    Of course, I can argue the other side too and say that prosecutors still have the discretion to bring lower charges against white men, which is one reason I think mandatory minimums don't work to rectify the racial gap in incarceration. As I say, I'm still opposed to them, but I think there's an argument to be made, just not one I wholly agree with.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "made no effort to do so as Chair of the Judiciary Committee."

    In fairness to Macpherson, you do realize what an uphill battle any Democrat would have on Judiciary with the 31 majority after the years of minority, and lobbying by Crime Victims United and others, don't you?

    Wasn't there a ballot measure or something which made changing M. 11 more difficult?

    There is a saying "politics is the art of the possible" and there are politicians who "choose their battles".

    But it would seem a good idea for the Macpherson campaign to say if they agree with Kroger on this one, how Greg would propose to change M. 11, etc.

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    Nate, the trouble with your "devilish" argument is this: the 1989 Legislature established Sentencing Guidelines to address the problem of sentencing being light and/or inconsistent. It was working just fine judges were going by the guidelines in nearly all cases even thought they were not mandatory. The guidelines could easily have been adjusted to recommend the sentences Measure 11 mandated, addressing the core issue while preserving the ability of judges to exercise some discretion.

    But they didn't, and now we have any number of stories about unjust sentencing. Because the human beings we elect/appoint based on their powers of judgment are not permitted to use it.

    This brief gives a pretty good background.

    <h2>(I included some more links to background on M11, but the spam filter doesn't seem to like it. Oh well, so much for being able to back up what I say...)</h2>
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